Supporting skills and talent

The development of talented people, and their ideas and skills, is critical to the success of the UK research and innovation system. Our research and innovation workforce must be supported to have dynamic, diverse careers that drive societal and economic benefits.

Key principles

Inspiring, supporting and developing the diversity of people who work, or aspire to work, in research and innovation is integral to good research practice.

There are strong interdependencies between support and training, as well as areas such as public engagement, research integrity, open research and research culture. We consider these aspects holistically to build an environment that enables all people to reach their potential.

That’s because people are key to a flourishing and interconnected research and innovation system. The training and support we provide recognises this driver of connectivity, and empowers people to progress their careers and engage with different sectors.

UKRI policies and guidance

Organisations receiving UKRI funding are expected to adopt the principles of the concordat to support the career development of researchers, and must create an environment in which research staff are selected and treated on the basis of their merits, abilities and potential.

Alongside our grant terms and conditions, we have set out the common principles for supporting the people we fund.

Our statement of expectations for postgraduate training describes the principles UKRI, Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation expect for the training of postgraduate students.

See our statement of expectations for postgraduate training.

Our statement of expectations for research fellowships and future research leaders clarifies our expectations of research organisations, research fellows and our councils for investing in and supporting the next generation of research leaders.

See our statement of expectations for research fellowships.

We also have the Research Councils UK statement of expectations for technology and skills specialists, which continues to apply to technicians, their organisations and our councils.

See our statement of expectations for technology and skills specialists.

AHRC has developed guidance on training and developing early career researchers in the arts and humanities, which aims to support early career researchers to develop their careers within and beyond academia. Read AHRC’s guidance to understand how you can support early career researchers.

MRC supports the development of clinical academic researchers and is a signatory to the cross-sector UK clinical academic training in medicine and dentistry: principles and obligations and UK clinical academic training for nurses, midwives, AHPs and other health and care professionals: principles and obligations. UK institutions and clinical trainees in receipt of MRC funding for clinical academic research training are expected to comply with these frameworks.

NERC have developed best practice principles in recruitment and training at doctoral level. The principles set out the minimum considerations for training grant holders in implementation, monitoring and reporting. Read the best practice principles to understand NERC’s expectations for doctoral recruitment and training.

Concordats UKRI has signed

UKRI is signatory to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. The concordat is a framework co-created in consultation with the sector, providing a consensus view of the support and development needs of researchers.

It sets out obligations for research funders, employers, line managers and researchers themselves to support the professional and career development of researchers in a higher education environment.

Find our more about the concordat.

We have published an action plan to meet our concordat obligations as a research funder which sets out how we will implement the concordat across our role as a research funder and sector leader.

Read UKRI’s funder action plan to support the career development of researchers.

AHRC has recently published a Statement of Commitment to the Concordat outlining the specific actions it will take to support researchers in the Arts and Humanities.

Read AHRC’s statement of commitment to the concordat to support the career development of researchers.

UKRI is also signatory to the Technician Commitment, which is a cross-sector initiative to improve the visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability of technical careers in higher education.

Find out more about the Technician Commitment.

We are a signatory to the commitment, which is our pledge to address key challenges and champion technicians.

As a signatory we have published an action plan to implement the Technician Commitment. Our plan outlines the steps we will take to empower both the technicians that we support through funding and those we employ directly. It also sets out how we will work with research organisations to ensure that they effectively support their staff.

Read the UKRI Technician Commitment action plan (PDF, 3MB).

MRC Harwell and STFC have developed additional action plans to support the technicians UKRI employs at these sites:

External guidance

The UKRI and Research England-funded TALENT programme has launched The TALENT Commission report, which has gathered new strategic insights into the UK’s technical workforce in higher education and research (published 1 February 2022).

The report sets out a vision for the future of the UK’s technical talent and includes 16 overarching recommendations to guide delivery of this vision, as well as a series of targeted recommendations for specific stakeholder groups.

Read the TALENT Commission’s report.

What UKRI is doing in skills and talent

We continue to implement our action plans as part of the wider UKRI strategy and the government’s Research and Development People and Culture Strategy. As part of these strategies, we have launched a programme to develop a ‘new deal for postgraduate research’.

Read about the new deal for postgraduate research.

As part of our budget allocation we will transition to working in a collective manner across £2 billion of talent initiatives, covering studentships and fellowships, building on our strong track record in working across research council remits.

This will allow us to harmonise further our talent investments to reduce bureaucracy, and to make it more efficient and easier to work across disciplines and across the research and innovation system, including the private, public and third sectors.

Read our budget allocation explainer.

If you have any questions or would like to engage with us on this area, please contact:

Email: talent@ukri.org.

Last updated: 16 November 2022

This is the integrated website of the 7 research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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